Friday, December 01, 2006

Wrong Car, Right Subject, Good Stop.

State v. Wagner, No. 06-0012 (Iowa Ct. App. November 30, 2006) An Osage police officer was investigating a criminal mischief complaint of a white car hitting a mailbox when he stopped the defendant who was driving a white Neon, which was the second car stopped in the investigation. The officers determined that the Neon had not been involved in the accident but asked Wagner to chat in the cruiser.
It appeared that Wagner had been partaking in adult beverages and he failed a PBT and FSTs, and he was arrested. At the station his BAC was a measured 0.178.

Wagner moved to suppress the results of the FST and breath tests and any statements he made because, he argued, the investigation should have terminated with respect to him when it was determined his car was not the one involved in the vandalism.

The court of appeals found that although the scope of investigation in a vehicle stop must be reasonable, it can include asking for documents and asking the detainee to sit in a patrol car. If the detainee's responses trigger further suspicion unrelated to the reason for the initial stop, the investigation may be broadened. In this case it was noted that the defendant smelled of alcohol.


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